MGM CFO Halkyard Wants BetMGM to Expand Internationally

Posted on: September 10, 2021, 10:46h. 

Last updated on: September 10, 2021, 01:34h.

MGM Resorts International (NYSE:MGM) CFO Jonathan Halkyard says the company is working on plans to make the BetMGM iGaming and sports wagering business a global brand.

BetMGM
Tourists walk past the entrance for MGM. MGM is looking for ways to expand the BetMGM business. CFO CFO Jonathan Halkyard is eyeing international markets. (Image: Las Vegas Review-Journal)

The executive made the remarks at the Bank of America Securities 2021 Gaming and Lodging Conference on Thursday. He reiterated the company’s pursuit of the asset-light strategy that’s seen it jettison an array of property assets and shed some smaller, underperforming businesses.

When I think about what this company needs to be, definitely the best-known brand, most trusted brand in gaming,” Halkyard said at the Bank of America Conference. “Then, to the extent that it is regulated, online offerings internationally.”

Currently, MGM’s international portfolio of land-based assets consists of the MGM China unit, which controls the MGM Macau and MGM Cotai integrated resorts in Macau. Additionally, the operator and its local partner, Orix, are the only group pursuing a gaming project in Osaka, Japan.

How BetMGM could be leveraged in those locations remains to be seen. The Chinese government takes a hard stance against online wagering, and that’s unlikely to change anytime soon. In Japan, it could take six or seven years before gaming properties there are operational, assuming winning cities are selected early next year.

Acquisition Could Be Effective Avenue

Halkyard acknowledges that outside of Japan and Macau, the pool for land-based casino expansion on an international level is shallow.

“Realistically the opportunity for integrated resorts is not going to be in a wide number of jurisdictions, and the capital cost can be pretty extreme. But in our spots — Macau and Japan — we would expect to be a player there,” he said.

The MGM CFO didn’t comment on potential acquisitions. But that could be the most effective avenue for making BetMGM a truly global brand. The unit is a 50/50 joint venture between the Las Vegas-based casino operator and British gaming firm Entain Plc (OTC:GMVHY). Takeover rumors involving Entain, which usually center around MGM, aren’t dying down. If anything, the chatter is gaining momentum, with some market participants seeing Entain as the most likely UK-based company to be acquired this year.

In January, the Bellagio operator made an $11.06 billion takeover offer for the PartyPoker owner, which the target ultimately rebuffed.

With a possible Entain purchase, MGM would accomplish the goal of moving BetMGM into new countries. That’s because the Ladbrokes owner is one of the most visible sportsbook operators in the UK, throughout Europe, and in Australia.

Plans for M life Rewards

Halkyard said MGM is aiming to deploy an omnichannel strategy for BetMGM, through which members of the online players would join MGM’s M life Rewards customer loyalty program, and accrue points through BetMGM play.

Some investors see considerable untapped value in the marriage of online gaming and traditional loyalty programs.

One of the largest casino loyalty plans, M life Rewards, has more than 34 million members, making its possible integration with BetMGM practical and potentially lucrative.

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